Enriching primary student teachers’ conceptions about science teaching: Towards dialogic inquirybased teaching

  • Sami Lehesvuori Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä
  • Ilkka Ratinen Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä
  • Otto Kulhomäki Pöyrö Primary School, Kuopio
  • Jousia Lappi Saakoski Primary School, Jyväskylä,
  • Jouni Viiri Department of Teacher Education, University of Jyväskylä


Inquiry-based teaching has been at the heart of science education since it was first outlined in national standards over a decade ago. The general idea behind the inquiry guidelines is that pupils would adopt ways of conducting science, in addition to conceptually learning, thus attaining also the epistemological dimension of science. Although curricula are based on these ideas of inquiry, all too often authentic inquiry is hindered by overly authoritative approaches and teacher directions. To avoid this, the communicational ways in which teachers can encourage pupil reasoning during different phases of inquiry should be explicitly addressed. This paper addresses this gap by introducing a dialogic inquiry-based approach to science education. This approach combines the principles of inquiry and dialogic teaching. Based on this framework we investigated a number of primary student teachers’ (n=28) conceptualisations of science teaching and evaluated to what extent dialogic inquiry-based teaching informed these conceptualisations. Analysis revealed that dialogicality was not present in student teacher pre-conceptions, their pre-conceptions rather focused on traditional practices related to science teaching. The learning trajectories created for six cases, however, indicate an increased awareness of inquiry-based teaching including the dialogic aspect over the duration of the course.